Winter Vegetables

Winter cuisine occupies a special place in Turkey, a country that experiences all four seasons. As we prepare for winter, an appetizing job awaits us preparing this rich cuisine, which brings together the vegetables that grow in winter.

Nutritional habits and ways of life inevitably vary from season to season in lands that experience clear seasonal differences. Turkey is one of those countries in which all the seasons are experienced to the full. Following autumn, nature embarks on a period of self-renewal that lasts all winter. But winter is never as exciting as summer. For while parties are thrown in the urban setting to welcome and bid farewell to summer, no such social reflex has developed to mark the start and finish of winter. Preparations for winter are limited to getting our clothes, houses and cars ready for the onslaught of cold weather.

Thanks to advances in technology and the industrial production of food, nutritional needs are now met monotonously by the same foods throughout the year. Because urban dwellers often fail to adapt their nutritional models to the season, they may face ‘tiredness syndrome’ during transitions from season to season. Not only that but uniform nutritional systems are unfortunately causing the loss of the traditional recipes that developed over thousands of years.

AVOID SPRING TIREDNESS SYNDROME
‘Spring tiredness syndrome’ was never mentioned by our ancestors who lived well-integrated with nature decades ago, which only goes to show the benefits of the Anatolian lifestyle. For Anatolia over the millennia has developed its living habits in the light of nature. The people of Anatolia, who begin their preparations for winter already in May and June, continue right through the end of October with the collection first of firewood and then the preparation of food. The matchless products grown from May to October are preserved naturally and without additives by methods such as drying, salting, smoking, pickling, and canning and used all winter long. Even the containers for these foods which grace the table through the long winter months require special care before finding their place in the cellar, which is opened and closed each time with the invocation of Allah’s blessing. The rich popular culture and dialogues that have grown up around these preparations, known as ‘the winter provisions’, are of encyclopedic proportions. Prepared by the people of Anatolia, who are closely acquainted with the spirit of nature, these foods combine the fruits and vegetables unique to winter, transforming its cold, dark days into vibrant, warm, light-filled environments.‘Spring tiredness syndrome’ has no place in the vocabulary of people whose lives center around nature.

CRANBERRY TARHANA SOUP
Ingredients:
1/2 cup cranberry tarhana (above), 4 tsp butter,
3 cups water or meat stock, 1 tsp salt,
1/4 tsp black pepper,1/8 tsp ground red pepper (Cayenne),
1 onion, chopped fine, 2 cloves garlic, crushed

Preparation:
Melt the butter in a pot and add the chopped onion and crushed garlic. Sauté until they begin to color. Add the meat stock, salt and pepper and let simmer. Mix the dried cranberry tarhana with 1 cup of water in a bowl, then strain. Add to the boiling mixture and skim off the foam.
Let simmer for 4-5 minutes. Melt the butter in a skillet, add the red pepper and then pour into the boiling soup.
Serve piping hot.

MEAT-FILLED LEEK AND CARROT ‘MUSKA’
Ingredients:
4 large leeks, 4 large carrots,100 gr minced lamb,
100 gr minced veal,1 onion, chopped fine, 3 tomatoes, chopped fine, 3 tbsp rice,1/4 bunch fresh mint leaves, chopped fine,1/4 bunch flat-leaf parsley, chopped fine,
1 tsp black pepper,1 tsp salt, 2 tbsp butter

Preparation:
Pick over and clean the leeks and cut into 35-cm lengths with a knife. Plunge into boiling water for 2-3 minutes, then strain. Cut open lengthwise,
fill with the stuffing and roll up in triangles.
When all the filling has been wrapped, arrange the ‘muska’ on a baking sheet.
Cut the carrots in half lengthwise. Plunge into hot water, remove immediately and strain. Fill each carrot with stuffing and roll up into a triangle. When all the carrots are rolled up, arrange them on top of the leeks.
Dot with two tbsp butter, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and cover with the chopped tomatoes. Finally pour the water or meat stock over the ‘muska’ and let cook for about 25 minutes.

CAULDRON KEBAB WITH QUINCE
Ingredients:

100 gr minced lamb, 250 gr ground beef sparerib meat, 1 onion, chopped fine, 1/4 bunch flat-leaf parsley, chopped fine ,3 cloves garlic, crush, 1/2 tsp salt, 1 tsp black pepper, 1 large quince, 2 tomatoes, 1 long green chili (Turkish ‘sivri’), 2 tbsp molasses (Turkish ‘pekmez’), 4 tbsp butter.

Preparation:
First mix the ground lamb and beef together. Then add the onion, salt, garlic, pepper and parsley and knead well. Shape into flat meatballs.
Cut the quince into quarters and clean out the seeds with a knife. Cut in round slices, pour the molasses over the top and mix. Melt the butter in a skillet and brown the quince slices on both sides. Then add the meatballs and brown on both sides. Arrange in a serving vessel with one meatball on top of each quince slice. Melt the remaining butter in a skillet, add the ‘sivri’ pepper and chopped, peeled tomatoes and cook 4-5 minutes. Add salt and pepper and pour in one cup of water or meat stock. When the sauce comes to a boil, pour it over the meatballs. Bake in a 170°C oven for 15-20 minutes.

PUMPKIN DESSERT WITH TAHINA
Ingredients:
1 pumpkin, 300 gr granulated sugar, 2 cloves, 4 tbsp tahina,
4 tbsp walnut meats, 4 tbsp clotted cream (Turkish ‘kaymak’)

Preparation:
First peel the pumpkin. Cut as desired and place in a pot. Sprinkle with the sugar and the cloves and cook slowly over low heat.
This will take approximately 20-25 minutes. When the pumpkin is done, remove it to a baking sheet. Pour its own juice over it and let it stand in a 170°C oven for 15 minutes until the juices are absorbed. Let cool. Serve with the walnuts, clotted cream and tahina.